Understanding the GPA in South Africa

by Sep 7, 20200 comments


Studying in the USA can be confusing, daunting and sometimes scary, especially as you now have to convert all your report cards and grades into the American GPA standard. So, what does GPA mean, how it is calculated and, how does it compare to the South Africa grading system?
GPA stands for Grade Point Average and is similar to the APS scores which are required by some South African Universities.


The GPA has a 4-point scale grading scale, whereas the APS score is calculated on a 7-point scale. When applying to South African universities, your Grade 11 and Matric results are used to determine your admission, however, when applying to America, your entire high school career is included in your GPA calculation and submitted for your university application. The difference between the two high school systems is simple. American high school starts in Grade 9 and consists of 4 years, while in South Africa, high school starts in Grade 8. Therefore, when converting your South African marks to the American GPA, you only need to include your Grade 9 – Grade 12 results when applying.


GPA Scoring

APS Score


How to calculate your GPA:


  1. Start with your Grade 9 year. Add up all your final subject marks according to the above scale
  2. Divide that number by how many Grade 9 subjects you took
  3. Repeat the above steps for your Grade 10 – 12 years
  4. Add up the 4 totals from Grade 9 – Grade 12
  5.  Divide it by 4 and that is your GPA.​​


This method is per the NCAA guidelines, and although you might find other GPA calculators online, this is the method Aspire Atlantic uses for our student-athletes.


The importance of GPA when applying to Universities:
Annual surveys by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) show that most admissions officials put a high priority on grades, particularly High School grades. The GPA ranked fourth among important factors considered for university admission.


The GPA ranked fourth among important factors considered for university admission. It is important to note, that the GPA does not take the difficulty of a subject into account, but admission officers will consider how difficult your subjects were when reviewing your application, so don’t stress if your GPA is not what you thought it should be. The main attribute universities look for is a steady improvement in your grades over the years and that you’ve consistently worked hard to get your scores up. Depending on the specific university’s admission requirements and standards, with a good enough GPA, you may be eligible for scholarships to help pay for your tuition.


The Athletic Association GPA requirements:
As a student-athlete, in order for you to receive full NCAA academic eligibility and to be eligible to compete in your freshman year, you must achieve at least a 2.3 GPA in your core courses for Division 1 and a 2.2 GPA for Division 2 to fulfill the NCAA GPA requirements.
For NAIA purposes, as a student-athlete, you need to achieve a minimum overall high school GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale – the same GPA calculator as the NCAA guidelines are used to calculate your overall GPA.


Bottom Line:
Your GPA is a good indicator of your academic performance over a number of years. Students need to make sure they understand the difference between South African and American university admissions requirements and start putting in the hard work from Grade 9. A Good GPA will definitely increase your chances of getting into a great university, and you cannot procrastinate for four years and only work hard in matric. That is a recipe for more than a few unexpected tears.




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